Skoufis announces free state parks access for all New York veterans and Gold Star families

Orange County. This includes access to the state’s 8,600+ parks, public campsites, and recreational areas.

| 14 Nov 2023 | 03:28

Senator James Skoufis (D-42) joined the Palisades Interstate Park Commission and local veterans to announce Governor Kathy Hochul’s signing of his bill, S.3309A, which grants veterans and Gold Star families living in New York State free access to the state’s more than 8,600 parks, public campsites, and recreational areas. Skoufis made the announcement at Bear Mountain State Park.

“This initiative represents a humble token of gratitude for the service offered by our brave veterans, all of whom helped protect our great nation and freedoms,” said Skoufis. “In providing no-cost access to our state parks and recreational areas, veterans will be able to better enjoy precious time with loved ones within the very landscapes they valiantly defended. To all those who served, know that you have my deepest respect and gratitude.”

“The waiver of fees is a highly deserved thank you to our veterans for their dedicated service to our nation. We hope many who served will take advantage of this expanded access, and I know our park staff will be proud to waive each veteran through,” said Palisades Interstate Park Commission Executive Director Joshua Laird. “Time spent outside in our parks can be a prescription for the physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being of all visitors, but we hope it is an especially important benefit for those in the veterans’ community who need it. State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid and I would like to thank Senator Skoufis for his leadership and ongoing support for our parks.”

“Part of our Outdoor Rx Program is to make sure we get vets together. This legislation allows us to park at these sites for free, and use all of the state parks for our gatherings. It saves us money, and brings more veterans out. I thank everyone involved who pushed this initiative forward.” said BRIDGES Director of Veteran Peer Services Mark Woods.

The legislation expands the benefits of the Lifetime Liberty Pass. Previously, New York veterans could apply for a Lifetime Liberty pass, which granted them free access to state parks and recreation facilities, if they had a service-connected disability as certified by the federal department of veterans affairs, among other stipulations. The legislation changed that criteria to include all veterans regardless of disability status, as well as Gold Star family members. Skoufis’s legislation noted that this benefit is already available to veterans at the federal level, which grants them free access to federal parks.

Governor Hochul signed the legislation into law on November 10. It is slated to go into effect April 1, 2024. To read the full law, visit the following link: For more information on New York’s Lifetime Liberty Pass, visit